The Spiral Scouts is an unfortunate sort of game. It has beautiful art, decent music, and well made puzzles. But narrative decisions and a dedication to vagueness keep it from being an unqualified recommendation. But for those who enjoy its gross humor, or can at least get past it, TSS proves a solid puzzling experience.
Becoming a Scout
The Spiral Scouts are a group of people dedicated to helping folks solve their puzzle related problems to obtain magic badges. These tasks range from helping a king fix his erectile dysfunction to repairing a fountain to helping an alien return home to the moon.
You take on the role of a foul-mouthed red-headed amnesiac after she is teleported into a forest kingdom and comes upon The Spiral Scouts. She agrees to join (because she has nothing better to do) and is given the name Remae. She discovers the universe is in danger and must travel through three parallel realms, collecting badges in order to save the day.
The world of The Spiral Scouts is your basic, illogical, everyone relies on a stranger to solve their problem based deal. You travel through three structurally identical worlds, each with its own theme: life, death, and chaos. Each world is thick with puzzles to stumble upon and thicker still with vulgarity.
The Puzzling World of TSS
The Spiral Scouts weaves puzzles into its very fabric. Literally every screen has at least one puzzle to solve. The puzzles require skills that run the gamut; some use simple math or diagram deciphering, but others can be far easier, requiring basic problem solving skills. If you’ve played a lot of adventure puzzle games there’s nothing new here per say, but there’s definitely a lot to do. And very little guidance.
Luckily what the game lacks in guidance it makes up for in formula. If you are familiar with the types of puzzles TSS deals in, the solutions feel natural and expected. It doesn’t mean the act of solving becomes uninteresting but ensures that players know what to do. But occasionally, there were puzzles that really gave the player nothing to go on, making it tedious to even figure out what you were supposed to do. Though it is possible to skip puzzles and still complete the storyline, there were a few mandatory ones that did this very frustrating thing.
To get this out of the way, TSS is a beautifully drawn game. The 2D style is reminiscent of Paper Mario in the best way and was my favorite part of exploring. Some of the animation is also similarly gorgeous. But as far as the construction of environments, TSS started strong but as I traveled between the life, death, and chaos realms, I noticed that there wasn’t much variety.
Though, from a story perspective, the three realms are supposed to be parallel, it’s disappointing to find that they are structurally identical. The life and death realms in particular were so similar that it barely felt like I was going somewhere new.
A feeling exasperated by the day/night cycle in the life realm, with night making it almost indistinguishable from the death realm.
There is no combat, so outside of puzzling, exploration is the entirety of gameplay, so it felt like there could have been more effort to make each realm feel different.
Oh the “Humor”
The Spiral Scouts feels like it stepped right out of the minds of the writers of the Conker series. And that could either appeal to you or turn you off. I fall into the latter category. But still I was able to get a couple of a mild chuckles from the gags. But really, I feel the need to drive this home, the humor is gross.
If you don’t enjoy this sort of humor there are tons of fun adventure puzzle games you can play, so skip this one, I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. I spent a fair amount of time cringing and aside from raw grossness it’s occasionally mildly offensive (an off-color gay joke, kink shaming) but if you have access to the internet, you have seen worse.
The Spiral Scouts is a well executed game. Despite my various quibbles, the artistic direction is solid and the puzzles were by in large satisfying. But with all of that being said, it’s difficult to recommend it when the writing is so specific and potentially offensive. I suggest that anybody with apprehension watches a couple of videos or reads the steam page carefully.
The Spiral Scouts is available from Steam.
If you’re looking for alternatives, check out our full list of puzzle games.